DSLR Photography for Beginners: Head Start your Freelance Photography

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DSLR photography for Beginners

If you want beginners guide to photography to hit on a freelance photography career you should go for DSLR photography for beginners. This article is about photography basics for beginners and will definitely bring the freelance photographer out of you.

Why DSLR Photography for Beginners?

Guys!! if you want to make money from a freelance photography career then the most important thing is to flourish in that field. And it can only be achieved by giving your work a professional touch. And to create professional results in photography, you need a DSLR(Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera.

People using a compact camera may be pleased with its simplicity but when it comes to generating professional pics they will definitely vote for DSLR. And this article will make DSLR photography for beginners real easy.

And if you are in any doubt that whether upgrading to a DSLR will make it difficult for you to handle things smoothly, then I must tell you that after reading this article you won’t say this again.

Some FAQs about DSLR

1. How does a DSLR work?

2. Is a DSLR camera suitable for me?

3. Is it easy to use?

We will be covering the above questions and will also be providing some astonishing advantages and features of DSLR that will be really helpful for learning photographers.

Firstly talking about complexity, DSLR is not at all complex. After you understand and get a proper demonstration of the camera, you will find that it is the simplest tool which one can use to bring out the most of their photography.

Knowing your DSLR

An image is nothing but light reflected back from the subject whose photograph you want to capture. Below is an illustration of how an image is captured. The subject is exposed to the natural sunlight and as the light reflected from the subject falls on the camera image sensors the photograph is captured.

DSLR Photography for Beginners

There are several essential parts of a DSLR which are playing a key role in working on it. Have look on the illustration showing various areas and parts of the DSLR.

As the shutter release button is pressed the mirror inside the camera goes up and image sensor is exposed to the light and photograph is clicked.

Advantages of DSLR

Having a DSLR has endless possibilities and advantages. The most important advantage of a DSLR is that we can change the camera lens according to our need. For achieving different types of perspectives, one can use different types of lenses.

A. Choosing Different types of Lenses

1. For Best portrait images:

We have some fabulous options of low lighting lens like a 50 mm, F/1.8G  fixed focal length lens or a 35mm, F/1.8 fixed focal length lens. Since it has a fixed focal length, it cannot be used for zoom in and zoom out purpose. These types of lenses are famous for creating those cinematic effects which is done by completely blurring out the subject background.

dslr photography for beginners

2. For zoom flexibility:

For having the flexibility of zooming in or out, we can use an 18-140 mm, f/3.5-5.6 lens. It starts from 18 mm focal length and goes up to 140 mm. It is very useful for capturing different perspectives.

B. High-Quality Images

A DSLR camera can produce some seriously high-quality images because of its large image sensor size and high resolution of capture (e.g. 36 megapixels and above).

Sometimes we have seen people comparing smartphone cams and DSLRs on the basis of megapixels of capture specified. But a DSLR camera even of 10 megapixels can produce really sharp and clear images which a smartphone having a 24 megapixels camera couldn’t afford do. This is because of the image sensor size. A smartphone image sensor is way too small (4X3 mm) in comparison to DSLR camera (36X24 mm).

If you have a good quality DSLR with a CMOS sensor deployed in it, then you can have really good low light performance, which cannot be matched with any other image capturing device.

a. For Wildlife Photography (lenses):

500 mm, f/4G ED VR

600 mm, f/4G ED VR

800 mm, f/5.6E FL ED VR

b. Low Lighting Portrait (Lenses):

50 mm, f/1.8G

35 mm, f/1.4G

c. Remote and Tripods:

One can opt for a remote and tripod if they are going for very low light situations. Remotes are very helpful when you want to trigger the camera remotely. At times when you are shooting at extremely low lighting situations, you have to pull down your shutter speed really slow.

Photography basics for beginners

And in such conditions even touching the shutter release button can cause blurry image due to camera shake. A remote and tripod should be used to overcome such problems.

This photo was taken in extreme low light condition and the only light available here was the moonlight. The camera was exposed for a 30s shutter speed, which is really slow. At this point, one needs a tripod and a remote to avoid camera shake which may lead to image blur.

d. Flash Guns: SB-700, SB-910.

e. High-quality sound recorder (Microphone) for a video shoot.

f. GPS devices for geotagging.

So what we have learned is that there are endless possibilities, endless accessories and endless advantages of a DSLR. It is the most eligible tool present in the market for achieving the best results in the image capturing. There are numerous range of accessories which one can opt as per their requirement and field of interest.

And with all this, a DSLR can be comfortably placed over all other image capturing devices and not only on the basis of effectiveness but also on the basis of simplicity

In the world of photography, the most overhyped subject is “cinematic effects in your images” and to get those you need to start understanding “exposure” and “depth of field” concepts. In the last segment, we discussed DSLRs and their endless advantages, features and possibilities it can provide.

In this segment, we will be helping you to understand the concepts of exposure which is the most basic element of getting good images. We will also be covering one of the most important parts i.e. aperture and how one can control it.

Frequently asked questions:

1. Why my images are overexposed?

2. What is F – Number?

3. What is the effect of changing F – Number?

We will be covering all the above queries in this segment, which will definitely provide you a clearer view of photography and image capturing. So let’s start from exposure…

C. Exposure

A good photographer has the ability to analyze light and can make use of the light to get a properly exposed image.

Photography Basics for Beginners

Over Exposed Image:

An overexposed image is the positive extreme result of exposure. An overexposed image can be recognized very easily as the brighter part of the image blows out and the detail in the brighter section is “very less” or “zero”.

Under Exposed Image:

An underexposed image is the negative extreme result of exposure. An underexposed image will have no or fewer details in the darker section of the picture showing a blackish overlay.

Correct Exposure:

A balanced exposure or properly exposed image can be attained when the allowed light is just enough to capture the exact illumination of the subject as in real.

3 Elements of exposure:

1. Aperture

2. Shutter Speed

3. ISO

Exposure in general means allowing just enough light on the LIGHT SENSITIVE MEDIUM to ensure that the subject is captured with the same level of illumination as it is. In DSLR, the light-sensitive medium is the Camera Image Sensor.

What is Camera Aperture?

Aperture’s basic mechanism is to control the light entering the lens. It works similar to the human iris diaphragm (pupil). When we enter a Dark theater, suddenly everything becomes absolute black but after some time we are able to see things properly.

Beginners Guide to Photography

This happens because when we enter a dark room our pupil expands and allows more light to enter through it and helps us in watching while in the low light situation. Similarly with the aperture wide open, more light can enter the lens giving more exposure to the camera image sensor to the light.

Aperture Mainly Controls 2 elements

1. Exposure

2. Depth of field

Exposure can be controlled with the help of aperture by increasing or decreasing “F-number” (discussed in the later part of the post). Wider Aperture is good for low light situations. Smaller Aperture is good for brightly lit situations.

Depth of Field:

Wider aperture creates a shallow depth of field. When the aperture of the camera is wide open, it defocuses the foreground and the background and focuses only on the subject.

When the aperture is small, foreground and background come into focus and the image becomes crisp sharp.

How to identify wider and smaller aperture?

STEP 1: Shift the camera mode to aperture priority or “A”.

STEP 2: Rotate the command dial to change the F – Number.

Aperture is denoted by F– Number.

Lower F – Number = Wider aperture.  Example:  {f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2, f/2.5, etc.}

Greater F- Number = Smaller aperture. Example: {f/38, f/32, f/26, f/22, f/16 etc.}

Clicking Landscape:

We will be recommending the use of Greater F-Number while clicking images of landscapes. As in a landscape, we need both foreground and background sharpness in the image. Well technically speaking, we require a longer depth of field while clicking landscapes.

Achieving Cinematic Effects:

Now for achieving those really overwhelming cinematic effects where the background is totally defocused, one needs a lower F–Number. In terms of technicality, shallow depth of field, focusing only on the subject, helps in acquiring such effects in your image.

Now, for taking good pictures you need to gain full control over the aperture of your camera lens. For that is very important that you keep on practicing your photo shoot over the aperture priority mode of your camera. The aperture priority mode lets you change the aperture as you want and the other elements like shutter speed, keeps on changing automatically as per the lighting situation.

What is Camera Shutter?

Simply put, a camera shutter is a curtain in front of the camera sensor that stays closed until the camera fires. When the camera fires, the shutter opens and fully exposes the camera sensor to the light that passes through the lens aperture.

After the sensor is done collecting the light, the shutter closes immediately, stopping the light from hitting the sensor. The button that fires the camera is also called “shutter” or “shutter button”, because it triggers the shutter to open and close.

Introducing Shutter Speed

Shutter speed, also known as “exposure time”, stands for the length of time a camera shutter is open to expose light into the camera sensor. If the shutter speed is fast, it can help to freeze action completely, as seen in the above photo of the dolphin.

If the shutter speed is slow, it can create an effect called “motion blur”, where moving objects appear blurred along the direction of the motion. This effect is used quite a bit in advertisements of cars and motorbikes, where a sense of speed and motion is communicated to the viewer by intentionally blurring the moving wheels.

Explaining the Measurement of Shutter Speed

Shutter speeds are typically measured in fractions of a second when they are under a second. For example, 1/4 means a quarter of a second, while 1/250 means one two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second or four milliseconds.

Beginners Guide To Photography

Most modern DSLRs can handle shutter speeds of up to 1/4000th of a second, while some can handle much higher speeds of 1/8000th of a second and faster. The longest shutter speed on most DSLRs is typically 30 seconds (without using external remote triggers).

Ways of Using Shutter Speed

Slow shutter speeds are also used to photograph lightning or other objects at night or in dim environments with a tripod. Landscape photographers intentionally use slow shutter speeds to create a sense of motion on rivers and waterfalls, while keeping everything else in focus.

To freeze the motion of any fast moving object you need higher shutter speeds (1/125 or 1/250 or even more). But increasing shutter speed may cause darkness and the exposure of the image becomes quite low. To compensate this we use ISO or Flash Light.

Slow Shutter speeds are often used to create a sense of motion in pictures. Like creating light trails, Milky motion in rivers and waterfalls, hazing background of a fast moving car, etc.

Setting Up Shutter Speed

Most cameras handle shutter speeds automatically through in-camera metering. When the camera is set to “Auto” mode, both shutter speed and aperture are automatically selected by the camera. When you shoot in “Aperture Priority” mode, you set the lens aperture, while the camera automatically sets the shutter speed.

Photography Basics for Beginners

There are two ways to manually set the shutter speed:

a) By setting the camera to “Shutter Priority” mode, where you set the shutter speed and the camera automatically selects the aperture.

b) By setting the camera to “Manual” mode, where you set both shutter speed and aperture manually.

I recommend letting the camera select the correct shutter speed for you. I personally shoot in “Aperture Priority” mode 99% of the time and I let my camera calculate the shutter speed for me.

What is ISO?

In very basic terms, ISO measures the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera. The component within your camera that can change sensitivity is called “image sensor” or simply “sensor”.

It is the most important (and most expensive) part of a camera and it is responsible for gathering light and transforming it into an image.

With increased sensitivity, your camera sensor can capture images in low-light environments without having to use a flash. But higher sensitivity comes at a cost – it adds grain or “noise” to the pictures (usually when ISO is more than 800.)

Increase or Decrease ISO

When capturing a high-speed moving object the image becomes darker due to increased shutter speed. Here if you want a proper exposure you need to increase the ISO number of your camera.

Beginners Guide to Photography

When you click a picture at high shutter speed, it allows the image sensor very less time for exposure to light. In that case, the picture becomes darker and the image looks under-exposed.

Therefore, in such situations, ISO comes quite handy. Similarly, if you are clicking an image with a quite low shutter speed, there is a chance for the image to become over-exposed. Thus, reducing the ISO will turn images proper and beautiful.


Photography is an art. And like every other art, this takes its own time untill you can start clicking awesome pictures on the go. You just need to keep practicing harder and with time, this may potentially become your area of expertise.

To start a freelance career in any field, you need to have the expertise if you wish to generate some considerable amount of money from it.

If you have any doubt in any section of the article, please ask in the comment section below. If you liked the article please leave us a comment and do share it with your friends.

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Gaurab Singha Roy

Gaurab Singha Roy

Gaurab Singha Roy is a web content writer and blogger at bihog.com. Technology and Investment are the major areas of his expertise. Apart from this he is a Chemical Engineering graduate. Follow him on Quora.

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